Malnutrition is the condition that occurs as a result of taking an unbalanced diet in the body. This is characterized by taking too much, too low or wrong proportions of the food groups into the body system (i.e. proteins, vitamins, and minerals). It may therefore result to some other disorders in the body depending on which nutrients are under or over consumed in the body1. The reason of this is because the body systems cannot function properly. However, in most cases people suffer malnutrition because of lack of adequate calories of protein in the diet; and it is mostly common with children who are under the age of 5 years. It is therefore a case which is mostly associated with the developing countries that are not able to provide the basic needs to their majority poor (Anup Shah, p4). Poverty and the high population in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were the two main contributing factors towards the malnutrition which adversely affected most of the children under the age of five.
DRC is a country found in Africa and it is the third largest country in the continent with a population of more than 68 million people. It is also the 18th most populated country in the world with about 62% of its population being persons under the age of 15 years2. In the year 2008, malnutrition in this country was at its peak. It was common with the children who were under the age of 5 years and again was responsible for the 25 % of their deaths. Poverty level in this country was at high levels, hence making it very difficult for the government and the households to take good care of the entire poor population’s diet. It is important to mention that the country is also highly populated ending up constraining the available resources. The continuous rise of the size of the country’s population overcame the feeding capacity of the nation3. Even sufficient number of hospitals and healthcare centers which could play advisory roles could not be established (Anup Shah, p5).
The country’s rise in the population and poverty rates which are in turn responsible for the children’s malnutrition can therefore be attributed to the various factors. These include the following: high fertility rate, population momentum, and the history, culture, and religious perspectives of the citizens. Fertility rate is described as the average number of children that would be born before a woman reaches the last year of childbearing age. This age is stated to be between age fifteen and forty nine (15-49). In this country therefore, the fertility rate by the year 2008 was at about six children per woman. These resulted into an increased number of the dependants both to the households and to the country since most births were experienced in the poor rural population. The government could not properly take care of the risen population by either feeding them or putting up sufficient number of healthcare centers4 (Singh and Derroch p4).
Another population factor which led to the population increase is the high population momentum. This is the tendency of the population to continue growing even after the high fertility rate has been managed downwards. This was experienced since the country had most of its population concentrated at the child bearing years (15-49). This rendered the efforts to reduce the fertility rate less effective towards reducing the population to a manageable size. Even at the reduced fertility rate, children are still born. The end result is a large younger generation replacing the smaller older generation who also may have been independent; did not require much support from the government for their basic needs such as food (Anup Shah, p6)
Additionally, the country’s history, culture and religious beliefs were responsible to the rise in poverty and population which led to the malnutrition. For instance, the country had been known of its rich natural resources such as minerals which enabled the government to intervene at the times of hunger, so the citizens did not have to bother about the control of the country’s birth rates. This, therefore, made many poor people rely on the governmental feeding programs. However, the risen population could no longer be supported by the government for all their dietary needs. Another historical misguide was that in the olden society, the number of children used to determine how responsible one was. If a family had many children it implied that one was very responsible and able to be a leader of many people within the community. Therefore most of the uneducated in the rural areas of this country still held that theory as very important (Anup Shah, p4).
On the other hand, some of their cultural practices were also responsible for the rise in the population levels. For instance, in the rural population, children were still seen as sources of labor and therefore the more the number of children the more labor force one had. This therefore saw most of the families ending up with about six children per woman which is difficult to take care of; hence malnutrition on the children. Their culture also valued a lot of children as means of managing risks such as death. Some religions discouraged the modern means of family planning claiming that they are ungodly. For instance, the use of contraceptives was discouraged by some Christian denominations, such as Catholics in the region which instead advocate for the natural methods of controlling birth rates. However, the natural means were not very effective since most of the people no longer understood them since they misunderstood how the body systems work (Potts Malcom & Campbell Martha, p1).
Additionally, some people strongly believed that giving birth was a man’s commission by god and hence every man should endeavor to procreate as much as possible. Additionally, some of the religious groups’ teachings in this country had contributed to the poverty of some people. For instance, some of the region’s based religious groups believed that god is the provider of everything and that whatever one wants then he or she should ask from him directly through prayers. Therefore, this misled some people because they did not work hard towards acquiring their daily needs. Instead, they just prayed to God for all that they wanted. This had further made most of the people to be adamant to seek medical and dietary advice from the modern medical specialists since they so much believed that God answers and takes care of his people (Anup Shah, p6).
High population rate is not good to a country which is still developing since it may lead to the constraining of the limited resources which can only be used by fewer people; leading to more consequences such hunger which proves hard to control poverty. Therefore, it is prudent for each country to endeavor to control its population size to manageable size. The various cultural and religious beliefs which further contribute to the rise in the level of poverty should also be addressed and even ignored.